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My In-Between Continues...Day 90

Day 90 through day sandwich, bread, meat, and all the extras is just about gone!

Now let us jet-stream to day 90-114 as life began to change with certainly the most unexpected event. My sandwich was getting rather old, and stale, in part because I was not aware that changes were on the horizon. About day one hundred I noticed Daddy being far more distracted and away from home more often. I knew he taught evening classes, so I just tried to push through and not miss him, which actually became a coping mechanism throughout my childhood and youth.

One 1965 fall evening in mid-November after I got home from Brownie’s, Daddy was already home. He said, "we are going somewhere for the evening." He put both me and my brother in the car. Daddy began to explain that we were going to Bellmead, a Waco suburb on the north side of the city. I am thinking, where in the world is Bellmead? It was a long drive, yet for a child just riding across town regardless of its size could seem like a long drive. While in the car Daddy continued to talk about meeting someone new; like meeting a whole new family. Here I am in pigtails, a Brownie uniform, and who knows what my brother was dressed in. Jozette was still at the house and knew nothing about what was about to transpire.

We arrived at this beautiful red-brick home with a gorgeous front yard, fully landscaped with shrubs, crepe myrtle trees, and one large, tall, and wide tree that seemed as though it covered the depth and width of the entire lawn. Then Daddy rang the doorbell with the three of us standing there waiting for someone to answer. A gorgeous red-headed woman dressed in a cobalt blue suit answered the door. She was so welcoming, and kind. The interior of the home was unlike anything I had ever seen. The home interior had formal furniture, a Zenith 25-inch color console television, custom drapes and cornice boards, and even more fun was the ping-pong table in the garage where everyone was gathering to play. Evidently plans had been made prior to this particular evening and invitations sent out for all to attend. I heard family call this red-head lady Toady, and Daddy called her Barbara. Her sister was there, and some family called her Lucille and others called her Mimi. We stayed for a long while, and then left to go home. Daddy asked me what I thought about her and everyone else while he drove us home. I was one to like everyone, and after Mother’s passing, I was always needing to be loved, hugged, nurtured, and feeling as though I belonged somewhere. I had not seen my Mother’s family for a long time and I missed them desperately. I missed Mother. But this family was one hugging, loving, kissing family like I had never experienced before in my nearly eight years of life. To meet and greet them at their front door took at least ten minutes to get all the kisses and shouting finished from one family member to another. They were excited to be together, and some lived right next door to each other, and others just a few houses a part but on the same street. I recall the sweet lady called Lucille or Mimi going on and on about my hair, my big blue eyes, and how smart I was; that was unusual for what did I say or do that made her think these very kind thoughts. I learned later that she was a school counselor so that explains why she was enamored with me, as it certainly was not my Brownie uniform.

Now I just described the most unusual sandwich ever with just two slices of bread and turkey meat, but I should have included pickles, lettuce, olives, onions, cheese and condiments. In looking back, I realize that day 114 finally arrived and no real sandwich could have ever lasted that long and still be safe to eat; wouldn't you agree? The sandwich no longer existed; life changed and as of December 1965 I was being welcomed into a family where someone so kind, and fondly called Dada, owned a grocery store where they sold all the sandwich ingredients and the bag of potato chips too. He was as amazing as Mimi, oh yes, he was!

Yes, Daddy was getting remarried. Daddy left for Houston, Texas with Barbara and her nephew as he was also a Baptist minister. Daddy proposed to marry the gorgeous woman in the cobalt blue suit. A woman that looked just like Lucille Ball, and one just as funny. A woman who would become my stepmother on December 5, 1965, and one that I would immediately call "mother" upon their return from Houston. My brother and I stayed with Mimi in her lovely home, along with her two granddaughters. Mimi was amazing. We got to jump on the bed, eat candy like it was a main meal, stay up as late as we wanted, and the activity list is far too long for me to keep going, yet I think you most likely get the picture. This was a kid's paradise.

What I do know is that all of this happened fast. 114 days were like a vapor. Daddy did not call my real Mother’s family to let them know. Life changed. Daddy was only a single parent for four months. Jozette was sent away and left very saddened with our pastor's family inviting her to live with them. Christmas was just a few days away. Was I to be excited, sad, or how was I to really feel as a little girl with so many changes occurring so fast? Good question for which professionals might have an answer in today's time, but they certainly did not promote early childhood intervention fifty-seven years ago.

No grieving. No mourning. No tears. My real Mother was gone. A new Mother had arrived. I instantly called her "Mother." Life was now so different. I recall looking forward to Christmas, my birthday, and having a family life once again. Daddy and our new wonderful family had so much in common to include education, gospel music, church, and just love for God and life in general. Shopping for Christmas was so different. In preparation for Christmas Eve 1965, I vividly recall Mimi's Christmas tree, and all the gifts that covered her entire formal living room carpet. There were no spaces between the gifts from the very smallest to the largest, and all were wrapped as though a high-class professional had been hired to wrap every gift to perfection, with use of gorgeous wrapping papers, ribbons, and personalized tags. It was amazing to see, or at least it was for this little girl who was originally born into a family that enjoyed Christmas time, but gifts were limited. Mimi's professionally decorated Christmas tree and living room floor covered with gifts of love will never leave the portals of my heart and mind, that is for sure. My first Christmas in a new family was like that of a fairy tale.

The missing element in the 114 days is this: no grieving, and no mourning occurred after Mother's passing. I have lived with that awareness only in my later adult years, and with a tremendous price tag for the emotional impact it made unknowingly. I now know, however, and that is what really counts. Thus, my mission for whatever time I have left, short or long, is to make a difference in the heart and lives of those who suffer with grief. We all need to find the solace of mourning until comfort unfolds in our hearts after losing someone we love, young and old alike.

This journey moving forward has so many twists and turns that it would make anyone dizzy and even nauseated. Grieving for Daddy never occurred, or at least to my knowledge. Grieving for me occurred but not until years later. Nonetheless, stay tuned for the next twist, and it will not be a life sandwich or a romantic dance, that I promise. Here is a hint though: it will be a Christmas mix like that of Santa's elves and workshop and then an unexpected tornado from Waco to Oklahoma, and all on Christmas Day 1965. Yes, I survived but will always remember the infamous 114 days. Stay with me for you will not want to miss my first Christmas without Mother, yet with a new beautiful red-headed lady I called "Mother" within no time.

Let me know if you have any thoughts of this journey, called my life at this point. I treasure other people's thoughts, ideas, and opinions. So, feel free to write a comment or send me an email. Would love to stay in touch! Talk soon, ~Sonja


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